Archive for the 'ecclesiastical: theology & architecture; sacred space' Category

end of meaning


I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in metaphysics, he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantegous to themselves… For myself, the philosophy of meaningless was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political.

Aldous Huxley Ends And Means


King’s College Chapel, Cambridge




Before a man can do things there must be things he will not do.



There is something morally  repulsive about modern activistic theories which deny contemplation and recognise nothing but struggle. For them not a single moment has value in itself, but is only a means for what follows.

Nikolai Berdyaev

castles and cloisters


The myth of the flood and Noah comes, in the Bible at least, after the retrospective utopia of Paradise. It is perhaps merely a different, narrower facet of the confrontation/ evolution of human intelligence with/from inhuman natural forces. One could see Paradise, the walled garden as a form of allegory for daytime, peace and leisure, while the Ark stands for nighttime, war and necessity. However: the hortus conclusus ultimately is a special form of Ark. In return Noah’s dark ship was also the site of temporarily paradisal coexistence between life forms that were otherwise absolute opposites.

Marte.Marte tell us they love castles and cloisters. The former are strategic places (occupation, outer control, material might, retreat, cultivation, spiritual-vertical perspective). A castle can be semantically classified as an Ark, while the cloister is comparable to the Garden of Eden, the walled garden. But both fields can converge in the case of occidental and oriental cloister/ castles, and the Anglo-Saxon saying, my home is my castle stands for nothing else.

Otto Kapfinger Excuse Me, Which Way To Paradise? IN: Marte.Marte Architects



It then became very clear to me that it was not the task of architecture to invent form. I tried to understand what the task was. I asked Peter Behrens, but he could not give me an answer. He did not ask that question … We searched in the quarries of ancient and medieval philosophy. Since we knew that it was a question of truth, we tried to find out what the truth really was. We were very delighted to find an actual definition of truth by St. Thomas Aquinas: “Adaequatio intellectus et rei” or as a modern philosopher expresses in the language of today: “Truth is the significance of fact”. I never forgot this. It was very helpful, and has been a guiding light. To find out what architecture really is took me fifty years – half a century.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, 1961


But we want an order that gives to each thing its proper place, and we want to give each thing what is suitable to its nature. We would do this so perfectly that the world of our creations will blossom from within. More we do not want; more we cannot do. Nothing can unlock the aim and meaning of our work better than the profound words of St. Augustine: “Beauty is the radiance of Truth.”

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, 1938


Both excerpts from: Renata Hejduk & Jim Williamson The Religious Imagination In Modern And Contemporary Architecture





Arne Jacobsen St Catherine’s College, Oxford



… the material was held taut

then lowered

compressing the air

between cloth and wood

bread and pewter plates

were put in place

flasks of liquid

reflected the light

wine spilled

on the white fabric

staining the surface …

John Hejduk The Last Supper

on the Pantheon




It was a kind of conviction, a belief on the part of man who has said that this, because of its shape, presents a statement in form of what may be a universal religious space … a world within a world.

Louis Kahn describing The Pantheon

cultural contaminations & social corruptions


Man must be stripped of his cultural contaminations and social corruptions. He must be imagined in his aboriginal condition, placed at point zero, before Temptation, before the Fall.

Colin Rowe and Fred Koetter Collage City

high density


Breugel the Elder Tower of Babel


Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place.

Isaiah 5:8 KJV



Stéphane Couturier


Michael Wesely


Photographs from exhibition Spectacular City – Photographing the Future, National Architecture Institute, Rotterdam, 23 September 2006 – 7 January 2007

misshapen shapeliness of shapely misshapenness


In the cloisters, under the eyes of the brethren engaged in reading, what business has that ridiculous monstrosity, that amazing misshapen shapeliness of shapely misshapenness? Those fierce lions? Those unclean monkeys? Those huntsmen blowing their horns? It becomes more delightful to read the marbles than the manuscripts and spend the day admiring those things rather than meditate on the Law of God.

St Bernard of Clairvaux would seem to concur that ornament is a crime